Tuesday, February 28, 2017

iFlow [from Voiced.ca]

Achieving 'Flow' means a lot to me. And I can admit that my mono-tasking, hyper focus on it's pursuit, drives me to distraction at times.
I can't help it. At nearly every turn I am aware of my movement in space, my thoughts in my mind, the distances;and connections between tasks- as I move around my class, as type on my keyboard, as I colour or draw or write or talk or walk. Sometimes, I can even focus myself into distraction... weird I know. And all of these elements tend to track subconsciously, but when I bring them to attention I instinctively want to make their edges smoother, the transition between them seamless, the barriers invisible.
This frame of mind is not helped by the fact that I am a teacher ... and a parent ... to be completely honest.
I have had ridiculous debates with my 8 and 6-year-olds regarding efficient workflow. I ask them why they did not bring their dishes to the sink [as they walked past me mid-dishwashing], or why did they leave their clothes on the floor [instead of in the hamper], or even why they did not replace the toilet paper [before they sat down and called me up to get the roll that was sitting right on the counter across from them]. Sigh. I know that they do not have answers, and I know they are learning, but something in me does not cave to these thoughts. Something in me wants them to 'flow' too.
At the heart of my feng shui mindset lives the belief that when people know better, they can act better. And I hope, feel better too.
I also think that taking small steps to tweak little moments can bring about new thinking. As for my kids, they are slowly coming to their own rescue with the toilet paper. Most times they just leave spare rolls on the top of the tank- within easy reach. And, this is what I am talking about; a simple solution that works. And it works for everyone. And it removes barriers in their lives. My daughter told me once that I sounded like Kylo Ren trying to force-push-hypnotize them when we talked about differentiated solutions. I guess that is somewhat of a compliment and a great call-out because I was trying to get in their heads. The core message that I was vibing at them is that I value working more solutions not fewer. And if I have to drone on and use the dark side to do it, I will. The only line I draw in their blind pursuit of solutions is if it is dangerous.
I have noticed that this is a pensive process. Also, frustrating, confusing, and slow. But, it is the necessary front-ended grind work to make it to Flow state.
Now I get the fact that it is not my sole domain to make the world click with IKEA efficiency, but I have met enough people that simply did not consider, never knew, or thought it was possible to exist in this type of headspace. And the majority of these teachable moments occur in my 'teacher-me' life. I have sat at round-table discussions on the topic of student success and achievement, where the system gave the dogmatic impression that it knew what was best for the child and family in question. Often the language is needlessly and overly codified in edu-jargon and the conversation is time bound. Quick decisions, can create good feelings and outcomes. I prefer deliberate decisions that build understanding and neutral emotionality. The reality is that, often, well-considered solutions can be stale. This applies in particular when the pitch has been prefabricated and assembled away from the meeting, without all member input.  The humans in the room owe each other the time and focus on achieving a solution that has both truth and hope within it. So, it is critical that all parties bring their best assortment of ideas and all parties take their time. What's possible in education is not set. Despite the hard truth of budgets, and expectations, and staffing, and engagement and a whole lot of other perceptual barriers, genuinely creative options for students' success do exist.
What if..? What else..? And what now..? These three questions have become my dark arts defense against the narrow, the rushed, and the vague.
Staying in the moment, long enough to reveal other possibilities, can be a little 'white knuck-ly' especially when everyone else starts posturing from an 'As-If' viewpoint. But I assure you, really cool things happen in that space just beyond the playbook, in the ambiguous after-moment of what if, what else, and what now?

Right now, could you?
  • Meet with either the Student Success Lead and/or the Subject Head of Guidance to hear their stories of positive, creative student based solution making. Be intentional and respectful in your curiosity this will honour their efforts behind the scenes.
  • Bring these findings to your next department meeting and share the 'WIn-Win' frame of mind. By building your team tools on successful approaches you and your team can get to helping students faster.
  • Post out to your actual or digital PLN, share your scenarios and challenges. Ask directly for resources, references, or even an opportunity to have direct conversation face to face. A broad support base will undoubtedly help your students succeed.



frost fun

#doodleaday warmup #yrdsb #maplesyrupedu #onedmentors

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frost fun

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Sunday, February 26, 2017


messin’ with minds

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#madewithpaper / fiftythree.com

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Saturday, February 25, 2017



#madewithpaper / fiftythree.com

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

moksha 022217

lots of thots
daily agenda wouldnt leave
the white noise distracted

Best regards,
Christopher Cluff

Monday, February 20, 2017

moksha 022017

so much shuddering
mountain felt good
the voice hardly heard

Best regards,
Christopher Cluff

Sunday, February 19, 2017

moksha 021917

today I danced well I did tree well well and I realized i wasn't very nice to Jake I need to talk to him I need to fix that I reacted so harshly sigh sigh

Best regards,
Christopher Cluff

happy sketched

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love these... pop-up projects are usually all over the house #mykids #gobebin #sketched

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

moksha 021817

off was kind of ridiculous todayWay too many thoughts running through my head felt like I couldn't quite relax my mind that irony is that I feel pretty relaxed going to the class but with every stretch the outside kept on creeping in

Best regards,
Christopher Cluff

@AJ_Gonzalez 13 sketched

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

Edyoga - u r wlcm [from VoicEd.ca]

The language of education is complex. I often forget the constancy of codified, jargonized, technical, and acronym-ical terms we use each day. We deal in it fast and loose. The common tongue can unify in most cases. But what about the moments of dislocation? How do we know that we have dropped the audience?
What happens in education and how it happens can be frustratingly fascinating. Counter-tensions can sometimes seem to pull actions out of alignment with intention. Stay vigilant, remain calm, and talk it out.
Some words, despite our exhaustive professional discussions, still elude my understanding. Derek Rhodenizer explored some these keyword challenges in his podcast, words like 'risk' and 'relationships' hold a powerful sway over educators. And regardless of the point of view, the positive potential in these elements evaporates when assumptions overtake mindful communication. Losing the tread and thread on these terms can happen quickly. For example, when teachers and support staff each voice their approach towards student success, or a new school board initiative emerges, or an individual from outside the silo, for instance, a parent, enters the convo.
Getting lost in translation can be confusing and once in a while, regrettable. Social language conventions can add a further flavour to the challenge.
During my teacher candidacy, I witnessed some language dislocation in rich 4K HD surround sound.  A student, new to the class, thanked my associate teacher for the use of a pencil. The teacher in response to their gratitude replied 'No problem.' The student paused, then retreated pensively. I reflected on that moment for a day or two and wondered if the kid wondered if asking for a pencil could have been a problem. Did they just unlearn a social grace with one offhand comment? And maybe, just maybe, do they now feel that they should not ask the teacher for a pencil the next time? So then I surveyed my colleagues and found that 'No problem' topped the list for responding to a gratitude. I remember the funny look on several of their faces when I asked if they meant to imply that there could have been a problem in the gratitude. One colleague laughed and accused me of overthinking, and I agreed that I was.
When unnecessarily and unintentionally loaded language meets concrete comprehension, stuff happens - unintended stuff. And when we do not notice that our words have landed awkwardly, stuff breaks - valuable stuff. And when we lose intention in our words, relationships can suffer - sometimes permanently.
Every day, teachers build the bridges for others to pursue their learning experiences. Educators have to be pro wrestlers when it comes to making 'the way, fit into the day.' No big surprise then, that even us professionals are constantly beta testing our best understandings of our profession, in the hope of serving students effectively. And when we do, we make words purposeful and hold ourselves and others accountable for the effects words have.
Words matter.
Right now, could you..?
  • Revisit a conversation from this week, either professional or personal, intentionally check in with that person - clear up any loose language or dislocations from your intention. This will remind you that emotional states are shared and need tending.
  • Examine your communication logs -  once for words that were said and once when they weren't. This will create new fluencies and opportunities for professional reflection.
  • Honour gratitude with clear language. This will reinforce a primary tenet of the social contract that must exist in school - "If I feel safe, I can learn."
Next post - make care

Sunday, February 12, 2017

moksha 021217

way too funny Way too funny when stuff for challenges in life aligns with slow practice the whole whole routine today I just kept on thinking of all the things that I was keeping at a distance from me and kept on thinking how much work I have to do to bring the outside to centre and to bring so much of my centre out also spent time today getting proper form in pigeon position have to remember to push out on that but in order to stay balanced

Best regards,
Christopher Cluff

Friday, February 10, 2017

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Edyoga - instant applause [from VoicEd.ca]

Accept two things right now. One, there will be no end to your planning. And two, you will plan way more than you use, but you will need all of it.
So much of what we do blends into the backdrop of our pedagogy. Marking, lesson planning, resource management, meetings, the list goes on and on for the items that rarely see the light of day. Or the desktop of a student. Nonetheless, the essential building blocks of our trade often exist in microscopic spaces. Cognitive calisthenics if you will. Necessary organizational vitamins. Keystroke jumping jacks. And no matter the times you redesign a particular Hyperdoc or lesson plan, your quest for best work should be open-ended and connected. You know these efforts are working when your community starts to change, the students level up and the grind hits its flow.
"So far, the best idea I’ve heard about building grit in kids is something called growth mindset. This is an idea developed at Stanford University by Carol Dweck, and it is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed. That it can change with your effort."  Angela Duckworth
Every experience that impacts you, imprints on your teaching. I do believe that teachers draw from the storyboard of their life to both inspire themselves and their students. What we include as relatable information on that map is relative to mindset, and mindset can two-step between closed and growth depending on context. Some teachers teach from the heart, some from the textbook. Regardless, you get to choose, and your choices will influence the teacher you become. I remember how elated I was the first time a colleague lent me a completed binder for a course that I had never taught before. I actually giggled thinking about how this collegial kindness would free me up so that I could get to all of the other stuff I faced as a new teacher.  But, I quickly found myself wrestling with their ideas, bruising my inspiration on their method, and choking on the flow of their courseware. The effort, as I was starting to see, to bend their course to my will would be impossible. So I made a few notes and handed the binder back the next day.
"It has taken me years of struggle, hard work, and research to learn to make one simple gesture, and I know enough about the art of writing to realize that it would take as many years of concentrated effort to write one simple, beautiful sentence." Isadora Duncan
It will take many years for you to develop your craft to the point that someone might make a mistake of calling it effortless or easy. I know that the binder I borrowed worked for that instructor, I saw it in action as I sat in their classroom and witnessed their craft. And as I saw the plans come to life, the comprehension gaps that I fell into and the storyboard that I did not live myself became evident. The binder fairly represented the curricular expectations, but what it could not do was transform me into that teacher or connect with the learner that I knew I was.
Sometimes you don't know that you were on the right track, unless something points out that now you aren't.
Right now, could you..?
  • Explain in simple terms, the organizational strategy in your course designs? This will pinpoint your intentionality and understanding of both the class context and the curriculum.
  • Draw on personal points of reference that connect to your courseware? This will bring forth authenticity and opportunity for teachable moments with students and self.
  • Map out the storyboard of each course you offer, visualizing the sequence of events as you imagine it. This will ignite your vision and future cast your ideas into the next iteration of your lesson planning.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

moksha 020517


funny I looked at my lines today staring at my poses in the mirror made me realize that I'm not in balance just like the last class but I could feel myself lying on a flat floor and opposing parts of my back where in contact with that flat surfacestaring at myself in the mirror today what would keep me from falling over was a really really askew when I tried to straighten my lines that's when I started to tip in One Direction or the other or a muscle started to twitch and I felt like I was going to tumble this made me think about decisions in my life and the parts that I've taken with these decisions and if those parts though they seem to get to a balanced out, I wonder if I was actually taking shortcuts because the true line was uncomfortable

Best regards,
Christopher Cluff

Saturday, February 04, 2017

moksha 020417

slowed 020417

pretty remarkable how uneven my body is I wouldn't of even considered the difference between left side and right side had I not started to take this class as I lay on the floor I can feel the different points on each side of my back my legs in my shoulders making contact with the floor it's strange I've never been aware of that in balance standing upright on 2 feet but there it is I'm not flat my sides are not mirrored and I imagine that is something I need to work on

Best regards,
Christopher Cluff

Friday, February 03, 2017

Edyoga - the gift of failure [from VoicEd.ca]

Falling down is a right, picking yourself up is a gift. 
There is a boatload of reasons why you could stay down when your day delivers a surprise left hook. Students can disrespect you, parents hound you, and lessons beguile you. Why rise? But consider this. Every teacher that seems to have their desk in order, lessons planned, and photocopies done - has a back story. Every one of them trained at a faculty of education and stressed about getting a job, interviewed maybe more than once, and has made countless errors.
The key word is 'countless'. Don't count them. Count on them. Learn from them.
Now I know that sounds like the easy advice of a teacher that has their ducks in a row, but I don't. And I am not sure that I ever will. My key to learning from my mistakes is to make them as unabashedly and openly as possible. And then share the experience. Building a community of honest-failers will be one of the most liberating moves you nurture in your first few years on the job.
I assure you there is plenty of time to get 'it' right. And you will on some days, in some things.
Right now, could you..?
  • Accept that your learning path should be filled with failures. These experiences will serve your growth mindset well.
  • Practice sharing these experiences with a trusted PLN. This will create a safety net of mentorship.
  • Follow your curiosity to connect to other people's mistakes, support their failures. This will lead to innovation.
NEXT POST: instant applause

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Edyoga - lurk like link lead [from voicEd.ca]

This is mindblowing. Sometime in September-ish, I heard a podcast by Roland Chidiac, and he was talking with a guy named Stephen Hurley. Stephen spoke of his work in Peel Region, his connections to music, and ended with a mention of the CEA. At that moment, a few little dots connected- me to Rolland in Waterloo region, Rolland to Stephen in Toronto, and back to me in York Region. A strange triangular sensibility bubbled up, and I suddenly and overwhelmingly felt the electricity of my learning network.

Initially, I was not entirely clear why my brain brought me to attention, but there was something auspicious about Stephen's connectivity, and beyond a growing appreciation of Rolland's digiPLN, I still could not put my finger on what signal I was receiving. Up to that point, I can admit that my pursuit of professional learning had been slightly stilted. In short, I lurked more than I lead. I think I sat in the exact seat that many educators do, asking myself what am I going to do with the knowledge that my personal, professional learning affords me. And why should I do something with my learning? So, I started to consider how to engage at a deeper level.

What caught and held my attention was Stephen's mention of a plan for the regional exchanges for educators to meet-greet-and-chat cross-Canada. My pedagogical stomping ground to this point was primarily locavore in nature. All of the conversations that I had ever had concerning the ebb and flow of education were paddocked in York Region. I checked out the CEA site, convinced myself that I had something to say, found the regional exchange offer, drafted out a proposal form to attend and interesting things started to happen. From the moment that I received the RSVP from Stephen to attend the regional exchange, I dove into lurker mode to find out more about the other attendees.

Funny thing, a large number of my current digiPLN were also on the invitee list.

Confession. My cross-border shopping for professional learning has always felt a bit shameful, almost affair-like, in that, I had been sneaking away from the comfort of my region for some time. I spoke with Rolland about this passion for another learner with hushed tones when we hung out at the Toronto regional exchange. Both of us craved the connection and resources and support of a PLN that ranged wider than our home regions. And that's when it hit me. The reason Stephen's offer got rooted for me was that despite the coolness of connecting with educators nationwide, the real message in the signal was that I needed to start leading these connections in some way. Rolland linked me to his PLN, Stephen and the CEA became the catalyst for new directions in my PLN, and I opened myself up to new possibilities.

Many cool projects and connections have emerged post-podcast. I have connected with an amazing array of educators around Ontario. My professional blog has evolved into a portfolio of work that includes reflections, artifacts, and new media. A digi-colleague Derek Rhodenizer and I have co-created #onedmentors as a conversation and connection space in Twitter where pre-service and in-service teachers can exchange ideas. And finally [for now] I pants-kicked myself into starting my podcast, Chasing Squirrels that focusses on the impact of changes in education.

My bravery did not evolve in isolation. I owe a ton of thanks to Rolland Chidiac and Derek Rhodenizer and Jen Giffen for their unabashed support of my 'what if' lists. And Stephen Hurley, And Stephen Hurley, well he is a catalyst. He's got that rare superpower that builds superpowers in the people around him. Yet in doing so, the challenge still remains to use the powers for something good. Through all of the tutelage of my PLN I have come to believe in my own agency and to embrace opportunity fully.